Alabama Teacher Strike Ends
Nov. 17, 1999
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) _ Teachers ended a two-day strike and returned with students to school today after the city school board agreed to cancel a $30,000 raise and contract extension for the superintendent.
The Birmingham Education Association called off the strike Tuesday after the board's decision.
``It's business as usual. Everybody's back,'' said Claudia Williams, principal at Phillips High School.
The protest started with a ``sick-out'' by 600 teachers Friday to protest the contract extension and raise granted last week to Superintendent Johnny Brown.
The Alabama Education Association, parent of the Birmingham group, called for a strike this week. At least 1,300 teachers and some 30,000 students missed classes.
Brown's 20-percent increase brought his salary to $181,000. Teachers called the increase unfair since they received pay hikes this summer of 1.5 percent or less, and many of the city's 75 schools lack adequate books and supplies.
Brown will continue working under his old contract. ``(It is) on behalf of getting our children back to school,'' he said.
The walkout was the first large teacher strike in 20 years in Alabama, where educators lack collective bargaining rights despite being represented by AEA, one of the state's most powerful lobbying groups.
An attorney general's opinion issued in 1958 declared teacher strikes illegal in Alabama, and few strike attempts have been made since. Neither the local school system nor the state took any action to block this week's walkout.